Renewable energy marketplace

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Courtesy of BioCycle Magazine

ALLU Group markets two types of equipment for use in biomass energy operations. The ALLU Screener Crusher bucket attaches to a front-end loader. The bucket is designed to aerate, crush, screen and mix at one time. The Screener Crusher has a rigid steel frame, onto which horizontally rotating screening and crushing drums are mounted. All the drums rotate in the same direction. There are several different models. For example, the ALLU SM is a standard model for most applications like screening topsoil, aerating and crushing compost, mixing different materials together, crushing of bark etc. It is suitable for middle sized and large wheel loaders and excavators.

ALLU also manufactures windrow turners. Its ALLU AS model has turning capacity up to 7,800 cubic yards//hour. “Both lines of equipment have a variety of applications in the renewable energy marketplace,” says Marko Melto of ALLU Group. “For example, the SM Screener Crusher can preprocess digestate from anaerobic digesters to improve the quality of compost. It also can be used during processing of wood and crop residues for biomass energy and biofuels.”

ArrowBio USA technology processes mixed municipal solid waste (MSW). The system consists of a physical front-end and a biological back-end, with the “two ends being inseparably integrated,” explains Rutgers University Professor Emeritus Melvin Finstein, head of ArrowBio USA. “The physical front-end uses gravitational separation in water, aided by hydraulic, mechanical, electromagnetic and pneumatic devices, to recover recyclables (metal, glass, rigid and film plastic) and to remove nonprocessible materials such as stone and grit. Water soluble biodegradable organics come into solution, and water nonsoluble organics are reduced to fine particulates. The now isolated organics are pumped to two-stage anaerobic digestion at the system's back-end.” The sequence is acidogenic followed by methanogenic digestion of the Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) type, a well-established configuration in the wastewater industry. “Only ArrowBio applies it to the recovery of materials and energy from MSW,” adds Finstein. Methane content of the biogas is about 75 percent.

A full-scale ArrowBio plant (150 tons/day) has been operating at the Tel Aviv, Israel transfer station since 2003. A 300 tons/day plant is under construction at the Macarthur Resource Recovery Park near Sydney, Australia, and is expected to begin start-up trials in spring 2008. “The Resource Recovery Park has a conventional MRF for blue bin recyclables, a composting plant for the green bin material, and the ArrowBio system will process everything else that would otherwise be landfilled,” he says.

Bandit Industries, Inc. manufactures chippers and grinders used in biomass processing operations. The company recently introduced its Model 3590, a whole tree chipper that is used to produce uniform-sized chips for biomass energy applications. “We ran it last week with a logging company that supplies a local university with chips for its wood-fueled power plant,” says Jason Morey of Bandit. “It is being used to process tree tops from the company's logging operations into six to eight chip vans/day of material. Each chip van can hold between 38 and 42 tons of chipped wood.” The university, with a student body of about 30,000, uses its wood-fueled plant for both heating and cooling needs. Wood chips are loaded into storage silos on the campus. “We interviewed the manager of the power plant and he explained that a uniform chip size is a big deal,” he adds. “It is critical that the transfer from the silos to the boiler plant doesn't get plugged with chips that aren't the right size.”

Bandit also offers grinders for biomass processing. Its Model 3680 Beast Recycler can produce over 400 yards/hour. It has a mill opening of 33 inches by 60 inches and engine options that range from 385- to 700-HP. “The grinders are more forgiving than the chippers if contaminants are encountered,” says Morey. “The teeth on our grinders are built to withstand certain metals. The magnetic head pulley at the end of the discharge separates metals from the end product. There are also numerous screen and teeth options that allow for a specific end product per application.”

Brown Bear Corporation manufactures compost turner attachments that can be mounted on front-end loaders and tractors. The company recently introduced a revised model of its PTO PA35C-10.5 farm tractor composter designed to be attached to the front or rear of 100-160 HP farm tractors. The composter requires a front or rear 3-point hitch, 1000 RPM PTO, and creeper transmission. “It - as well as other Brown Bear turner models - is being used by animal feeding operations for manure composting to assure CAFO and AFO compliance, as compost can be exempt from the new proposed federal CAFO standards,” says Phil Brown of Brown Bear. “Government loans and grants, such as '319 funds' may be available for equipment purchases used to meet the new CAFO regulations.”

The E3 Biofuels' Genesis Plant in Mead, Nebraska purchased a Brown Bear SC4912 turner to compost digestate from the facility's anaerobic digester, which is processing manure from a feedlot at the site along with stillage by-product from E3's ethanol plant. The turner is mounted on an articulated loader, and can process about 2,500 cy/hour of material. The unit is 12-feet wide and has a 49-inch paddle aerator that operates with windrows up to 5-feet tall.

Construction Equipment Company (CEC) screen plants have been used for many years to prepare wood fuels for biomass plants. Its Model 6 x 16 Screen-It - available in either wheel or track mounted units - is commonly used for biomass fuel applications, says Matt Gurney of CEC. “The larger stroke, screen angle and length of the screenbox allow this unit to produce compost and clean biomass material at the same time. The up-and-down action of the box completely agitates the material, getting better fines separation and higher quality material overall.” He adds that fines are problematic for the energy plants, making it critical to remove them from the biofuel fraction.

In California, most wood processors supplying biomass plants take a range of woody materials, including hardwoods, softwoods and/or dimensional lumber, depending on their geographic location. “For the most part, everyone stays away from pressure treated and painted lumber,” says Gurney, who is based in California. “However, we do have a CEC customer in Nevada that processes railroad ties. He grinds them, screens out the fines, and sends the chips to a cogeneration plant. The fines have to be landfilled.” Grover Landscape, a large-scale green waste composter in northern California, sells a large portion of the middle fraction of its screened compost to biomass energy plants. “They have a couple of CEC screen plants,” notes Gurney.

Continental Biomass Industries (CBI), a manufacturer of shredders and grinders for the wood and waste industries, recently added a heavy-duty drum chipper rotor in response to clients who need to make quality chips for emerging fuel markets. The Magnum Force 6400 Series has four field-swappable rotors - solid steel for contaminated waste streams, forged drum for grinding clean wood and mulch and two drum chippers (two pocket, and four pocket) for making custom- sized chips ranging in size from 1/16-inch to 1.25 inches. Track, stationary and mobile units are available. “This Series is good for operations that have multiple needs throughout the year,” says Mark Taitz, CBI's Director of Business Development.

Taitz adds that a number of CBI's clients are making wood fuel pellets, or prepping the wood for pellet production. He cites Skelleftea Kraft, the fourth largest power provider in Sweden, that purchased CBI's 8400 Magnum drum chipper (1000 HP). The company is processing logs to make 125,000 tons of wood pellets annually. The unit makes chips that are 5 mm in size.

Environmental Credit Corporation (ECC) is a provider of carbon credits, renewable energy certificates and other air and water quality credits. ECC offers project development services as well, such as installing anaerobic digesters at farms in exchange for a share of the carbon credits. Carbon credits are created with organizations through a number of different processes, including reduction of methane emissions for agricultural operations, wastewater treatment plants and landfills; renewable energy production; and carbon sequestration from forestry operations.

Corn Plus, one of the largest ethanol plants in the state of Minnesota, has joined forces with ECC to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below its plant emission baseline - what the plant produced at the beginning of the project. Corn Plus came to ECC to evaluate its greenhouse gas emissions and develop methods to determine its baseline. The carbon credits created by the subsequent emissions reduction will be traded through the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), the world's first and North America's only greenhouse gas emissions registry and trading system.

EPA's Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) is a voluntary assistance and partnership program that promotes the use of landfill gas as a renewable, green energy source. LMOP forms partnerships with communities, landfill owners, utilities, power marketers, states, project developers, tribes, and nonprofit organizations to overcome barriers to project development by helping them assess project feasibility, find financing, and market the benefits of project development to the community. The U.S. EPA launched LMOP to encourage productive use of this resource as part of the United States' commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

As of December 2006, LMOP has more than 600 Partners that have signed voluntary agreements to work with EPA to develop cost-effective landfill gas energy projects. The first LMOP-assisted projects started in 1995. To date, LMOP has assisted in the development of approximately 330 landfill gas utilization projects - including 32 new projects and nine project expansions that went on line in 2006. These 330 projects have prevented the release of over 24 million metric tons of carbon equivalent (MMTCE, the basic unit of measure of greenhouse gases) into the atmosphere over the past 12 years. An article about LMOP and trends in landfill gas recovery in the United States starts on page 57 this BioCycle Conference Preview Report.

Fecon makes equipment used in the forestry and land clearing industries to size reduce brush and slash. Its Bull Hog wood shredders are hydraulically powered or used in conjunction with a tractor PTO. Daniel Hathaway, a Fecon sales representative, created the Brushworker package that includes a tractor with a Fecon shredder and a loader. The Brushworker can be transported in a rolloff container. “This unit does knock down and the first shredding,” explains Hathaway. “We get it to where the wood is transportable. We have worked in urban and suburban settings doing brush clearing and highway roadsides, as well as in forests, creating defensible spaces for firefighters. For example, we had three of the Fecon units hooked up to Kubota excavators to clear pinion pine and juniper in Utah for fire prevention.”

The unit can grind trees up to 1-foot in diameter. A 100 HP tractor and the Bullhog can process about 75 tons/hour of wood and brush, he adds. For biomass fuel markets, the ground brush is screened to remove the fines and baled for transport to a wood-fired power plant. “We just specced a package that included our equipment and a small Orbit screen for a firm in Panama,” says Hathaway. “Once you get the brush knocked down, there are so many options with what to do with the material.”

Hamer, Inc., a bagging equipment manufacturer, has sold a number of systems to wood pellet fuel manufacturers. “We have in excess of 40 systems out there, and are doing more all the time,” says Dan Brown of Hamer. “Typically, pellet fuels are packaged in 40 lb bags. Dosing is accomplished with a Net Weight Scale that can be run in the 26-28 bags/minute range with a 40 lb bag. Then our Model 2080 Form-Fill-Seal machine does the actual bagging, and depending on the needs of the producer, we can install end-of-the line bag handling equipment - from a hand-stacking conveyor to a robotic palletizer with a fully automatic shrink wrapper.” Producers in the 500,000 bags/year range typically select a semiautomated bagging line. “For one million-plus bags/year, it makes more sense to be fully automated,” notes Brown.

This past January, Hamer sold its Model 2080 to Hassell & Hughes in Collinwood, Tennessee, a manufacturer of hardware flooring and other lumber products that decided to turn its primary waste product - oak sawdust - into a revenue stream. Hassell & Hughes has two pellet mills that produce about six tons/hour. It is able to bag all the pellet output in a single shift using the 2080. In addition to wood pellets, Hamer is seeing increasing interest in pellet production from ethanol by-products. “We are getting inquiries from companies looking at producing biofuels with the various leftover corn components,” says Brown.

Hoosier Chapter of SWANA (Solid Waste Association of North America) has over 70 members representing solid waste districts in the state of Indiana, landfill operators, and consultants and industry representatives. “One of our primary missions in Indiana has always been to provide training for landfill operators,” says Steve Christman, Executive Director of the Northeast Indiana Solid Waste District and president of SWANA's Hoosier Chapter. “Operators are required to maintain a state level certification and we provide training sessions twice a year for them to get the hours they need to maintain their certification.”

Some of the Hoosier Chapter's members have landfill gas recovery programs at their facilities. “In Ft. Wayne, for example, the landfill pumps methane to a construction company for asphalt production,” adds Christman. “In general, we see a trend in Indiana toward waste conversion technologies. Solid Waste Districts are definitely looking at those possibilities, in addition to running our fleets on biofuels.” He notes that the Hoosier Chapter is cosponsoring a conference at the end of October (23-24) with the Association of Indiana Solid Waste Districts.

Inland Power Group is the authorized dealer in the Midwest for GE Energy's Jenbacher Gas Engines. It provides service, training and parts as part of its equipment package. Inland offers the complete line of Jenbacher gas engines ranging from 330kW to 3MW.

A Jenbacher JG316 GS-BL biogas engine system was installed at Norswiss Farms in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, a 1,100-head dairy farm. Microgy, Inc. supplied the anaerobic digester; electricity output is sold to Dairyland Power Cooperative. The project began operating in April 2006 and has 848 kW of combined heat and power (CHP) generating capacity. Waste heat from the Jenbacher engine's jacket water and intercoolers is sent to a heat exchanger for hot water production and then is piped back to the digester to maintain the 750,000 gallon tank in the thermophilic temperature range. Recently, Inland Power sold two 335 kW gas engines to Schmack BioEnergy for its new anaerobic digester in Akron, Ohio.

Martin Machinery first entered the biogas industry in 1982 with the design and construction of switch gear to parallel an induction generator to the utility. Additionally, the company supplies electric biogas generator systems ranging from 50 to over 3,000 kW. In 2004, Martin Machinery started a separate company, GEN-TEC LLC, to build utility paralleling gear and the custom designed paralleling switch gear. The company currently custom designs new and rebuilt electric generator systems to operate using biogas. It also services biogas units powered by engines with 460-cubic-inch to 7,040-cubic-inch engine blocks.

A skid assembly with a 180 kW electric generator was delivered last winter to Terryland Farms, Inc. in St. Eugene, Ontario. The farm installed a 1,000 m3 Genesys Biogas anaerobic digester to process manure from the dairy farm with about 260 cows. The system just began operating recently.

Morbark, Inc. has several whole tree chipper models that are used for producing fuel chips for biomass power plants. “Most of these operations are on the East Coast and through the Southeast region of the United States,” says Greg Millis of Morbark.

Model 50/48 has a 48-inch diameter drum and can process over 100 tons/hour. The unit has larger teeth on the infeed roller, and rear stabilization legs. In addition to whole trees, the chipper is used to process brush and tangled slash. Model 30/36 has a production rate of up to 50 tons/hour. A knuckleboom loader feeds material into the drum-style chipper that has a 30-inch cutting anvil. The portable chipper is also used to process logging slash and railroad ties.

N40 Inc. is the sales company for several compost equipment manufacturers in Europe. “We determined a need existed for products that were innovative, economical to operate, compact in design, easy to transport, require little service and when service was required were simple to repair,” explains Lyndell Pate of N40. “This search led us to a few of the world's top producers of high quality composting and support equipment.”

Among the technologies represented is BACKHUS compost turners. Models handle windrow widths from 9-feet up to 25-feet. Features include fuel efficiency, lower noise, fully hydraulic operation and an array of attachments, such as side transfer conveyors designed to reduce time and material handling. N40 also carries the Backers star screen technology, the Terra Select trommel screen with the “Wind Sifter” air separator for plastic contaminants, and Span-Tech fabric buildings.

Peterson Pacific offers a line of horizontal grinders and chippers that are used in the biomass market. Its track-mounted horizontal grinders are well-suited for land clearing operations, and constitute half of Peterson's grinder sales. The 6710B has 1000 HP and a 50-inch by 66-inch feed opening, making it capable of grinding large stumps. One of the unique features of Peterson's grinders is the multiple grate system, which allows a user to mix and match different grates to reach any material size with minimal difficulty.

Its chippers, although originally intended for pulpwood manufacturers, have also found use in the biomass industry. Chippers, which slice the material with sharp knives, produce a more consistently sized product with fewer fines, notes Dave Benton of Peterson Pacific.

Phase 3 Developments & Investments, LLC, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, provides products and services related to renewable energy and biobased products. The company works with agricultural and industrial producers in the Midwest states to convert manure, biodiesel/ethanol by-products and food processing residuals to energy and nutrients. It conducts business and technical feasibility studies; financing and grant application preparation; and marketing of renewable energy, biobased products and emission credits. Other services include selection of vendors, equipment and controls, and integration of individual pieces of purchased equipment or equipment modules.
One of Phase 3's first projects was working with Scenic View Dairy in Fennville, Michigan to install an anaerobic digester, assist with utility interconnections and most recently, obtain equipment to upgrade the biogas into pipeline quality natural gas. Ongoing R&D projects include extraction of nutrients in manure for production of fertilizer pellets and analysis and availability of phosphorus in digester solids and effluent.

Poly-Flex Composting recently introduced an acquired technology for composting agricultural, municipal and industrial organic waste streams. Sold under Husky EcoPOD™, the system utilizes large plastic vessels that are mechanically loaded with organic waste by a moving press on a Husky Ag-Bagger. Two perforated plastic pipes are inserted into the pod by the same press during progressive filling of the EcoPOD. The pipes provide forced aeration during the composting process. The flexible plastic vessels are available in 5- and 10-foot diameters, and in lengths of 200 feet.
Increased regulation of manure management at confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) has opened marketing opportunities for the Poly-Flex composting system. The equipment can be used in tandem with anaerobic digester installations to process digestate and produce a marketable end product that can be applied to farm fields or as a peat moss substitute in greenhouses and landscape applications, says Morris Jett, President of Poly-Flex, Inc.

Rotochopper manufactures wood grinders that are used in the biomass industry. Particle uniformity is of utmost importance, and Rotochopper's motto is “Perfect In One Pass.” The MC266F is Rotochopper's flagship diesel wood grinder, a horizontal unit with an 18-inch high by 66-inch wide feed opening. The 475 HP engine is well-suited for grinding slash into biomass at forestry operations. For greater efficiency, the MC266F is built to match the capacity of trucks and forwarders that bring material to forest landings to be ground, and then haul the material out of the woods.
The Laurentian Energy Authority (LEA) in Hibbing, Minnesota, uses the EC266, with a 400 HP motor and a 6-inch screen. It was important for LEA to have an electric model, to make use of the power it produces instead of trucking in large quantities of diesel fuel. Placed in its wood yard, LEA receives material from multiple primary grinders in the area. The high speed, high capacity unit is also semimobile, allowing operators to move it around the yard. They ultimately chose the EC266 because it produces a reliable particle size, with a minimum of fines. LEA fills 25-ton capacity trucks in 12 minutes, with a final product of 4-inch minus, used for boiler fuel.

Roto-Mix is well-known in the organic waste management field for use of its stationary and mobile mixers to blend feedstocks such as wastewater biosolids and food residuals with bulking agents for composting. The company's roots are in agricultural feed mixers, and it recognized the utility of its equipment for processing organic residuals. Now, Roto-Mix is tapping a new market opportunity - feed mixes that utilize the wet distillers grain from ethanol plants. “We introduced a new staggered rotor that enables mixing of the wet, heavier distillers grain with other feed ingredients,” explains Garland Smith of Roto-Mix. The GeneRation II mixing units improved lifting and tumbling action with less mixer revolutions. It uses a staggered paddle design that enables mixing of heavier and stickier feed ingredients.
The new design eliminates springs and spring boxes, which lowers maintenance costs, notes company literature. Existing Roto-Mix units with the standard bar style rotor can be retrofitted with the staggered rotor. “We are getting more and more ethanol plants in Kansas and Nebraska, and are selling a bunch of these units with the staggered rotors,” says Smith. “That is one of the reasons we designed the new rotor.” Eight of the company's mixers, ranging in capacity from 10 to 34 cubic yards, are now offered with the staggered rotor.

Schmack BioEnergy, LLC, based in Cleveland, Ohio, is a full-service technology provider in the anaerobic digestion industry. The company was jointly formed with Schmack Biogas AG, an anaerobic digester equipment manufacturer based in Germany. “We will design-build-own-operate digester installations,” explains Mark Suchan of Schmack BioEnergy. “We are marketing Schmack's complete mix digester technology that is designed for feedstocks up to 25 percent solids.” Retention time in the digester, which operates in the mesophilic temperature range, is 20 to 30 days, he adds.

The company's first project is in Akron, Ohio at a biosolids management facility operated by KB Composting Services. Several members of the Kurtz Bros. family, a long-time organic waste management company in Ohio, started Schmack BioEnergy in partnership with Schmack Biogas. A portion of the biosolids from Akron's wastewater treatment plant (5,000 dry tons/year, a third of the city's production) will be fed into the digester, which is expected to come on line this month. Jenbacher gas engines will convert biogas into electricity. “We also are building two merchant plants in Ohio,” says Suchan. “The project in Columbus will take food waste, manure and sewage sludge.” An affiliated company, Biogas Technologies Unlimited, has a biogas cleaning system that upgrades digester gas and landfill gas to pipeline quality natural gas. Schmack also has installed a full service laboratory to test and monitor the quality of digester inputs and outputs.

Unison Solutions, Inc. custom engineers and fabricates biogas conditioning and distributed generation systems. “We build everything between the gas source and the generator or other end use, including the gas treatment and compression systems on skids,” says Jan Scott of Unison. The company uses either microturbines, gas engines or fuel cells, depending on the scale and type of project.

The company works primarily with more industrial-scale biogas streams, including landfill gas recovery and wastewater treatment facilities. Recently, however, Unison has been looking at several potential projects with ethanol production plants. “A lot of energy is spent to make a gallon of corn ethanol,” says Scott. “We have been working with a thin stillage anaerobic digestion process to handle the corn by-products. The amount of energy these plants can save is substantial.” The company is also working on its first fuel cell wastewater treatment facility project. Unison also has installed systems at several industrial food processing facilities.

Vermeer Manufacturing grinders are offered in a variety of configurations to suit land clearing and municipal waste operations. For example, trailer-mounted horizontal grinders are towable behind dump trucks or other trucks; they feature 14- to 20-foot long feed tables and adjustable-height hitches. Self-propelled track grinders are highly maneuverable and are able to work at uneven job sites in forests and land clearing projects. For increased efficiency, the track grinder can also drive between material piles. Vermeer grinders feature remote-controlled operation and the patented Duplex Drum. The drum, offered on both tub and horizontal grinders, provides a 35 percent increase in rotational inertia with a 10 percent weight reduction, notes the company's website. Operators can change out any individual hammer within minutes without removing other hammers.

When selecting between horizontal versus tub models, the company notes that tub grinders generally perform better with heavy, large-diameter material such as stumps and root balls. If stumps are the majority of cleanup, tubs are a good option. But, if processing longer raw material is the consistent application, a horizontal model may be the best choice. Also, smaller loading equipment can be used for horizontal grinders, because they typically have a lower feeding height than a tub grinder.

Westech Engineering, Inc. supplies equipment for water, wastewater and industrial applications, including mixers and covers for anaerobic digesters. Its DuoSphere™ gasholder structures made from high-strength fabrics are a cost-effective biogas storage solution that range in gas-holding volumes from 20 to 5,000m3. The DuoSphere is designed to regulate pressure and flows from digesters as gas is utilized to produce heat and/or electricity, explains Matthew Williams of Westech. “Gas production has peaks and valleys, whereas a boiler may need a higher pressure to utilize the gas. The DuoSphere allows the energy recovery equipment to operate at a steady rate.”

This summer, a 50 m3 DuoSphere was installed at an ethanol plant to provide constant pressure for the biogas system to ensure that downstream equipment (compressor, boilers) can function continuously. “This DuoSphere has some unique features for this application, including a single large air fan to provide very high gas flows when necessary and a view window to visually monitor the inner membrane,” says Williams. “Another is the inner membrane design, which ensures that the amount of gas stored can be accurately measured from full to empty without interference from haphazardly-folded fabric.”

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